Digital marketing is an art and a science — a delicate dance of persuasion as well as a carefully calibrated game of odds and statistics. A successful marketing mix will help you reach your marketing goals and put your company in a position where it can quickly increase its bottom line and keep growing.
This guide can serve as a practical starting point with the standard components we’ve seen repeated over the years as experts in digital and social media marketing.
Ready to get started with a successful marketing program of your own? If so, then you should build a solid foundation to set you on the right path for success.
Component 1: Market Research
All successful marketing strategies start with a map of the territory. Market research makes that possible by giving you a thorough understanding of the economic factors that can affect your overall strategy.
The economy is constantly changing. Factors such as inflation, job growth, imports, exports, and other indicators will give you an idea of where money is flowing. When you have insight into the “big picture”, you can then align your marketing strategy to aim for consumers that are benefitting from changing economic conditions.
Where’s the economy headed? Is it contracting or expanding? Are consumers spending their wages or saving them?
Macroeconomic indicators give you an overview of where the economy is going and can help you identify your target market, plan your advertising budget, and create a product strategy with greater precision. Some key indicators to keep an eye on include central bank interest rates, unemployment rates by industry, and the consumer confidence index. You don’t need to be an economist with years of training to comprehend these figures. All you need to understand is what those numbers mean when they are mentioned in financial news, and how they affect the overall economic landscape.
For example, let’s say you own a business that offers both new home construction and renovations. If central banks increase interest rates that could mean fewer mortgages and a general downtrend in new home construction. In that case, you may want to focus your marketing efforts on renovation services that expand existing homes with new additions in order to accommodate the needs of consumers that want a larger home at a reduced cost.
Component 2: Consumer Research
Once you have an idea of where the money is flowing in the economy, you can then proceed with defining your buyer personas and target market.
Knowing your ideal customer is fundamental to developing a well-rounded marketing plan. The goal here is to create content that addresses their needs and speaks to them by addressing factors that include demographics, psychographics, pain points, goals, values, and other defining characteristics.
Know Your Brand Position
If there was a hierarchy in your industry, in what position would your brand be found? How do customers perceive your brand? For example, if you sell shoes, are they considered to be the most stylish or the most comfortable? Does this correspond with your customer personas and what their needs are?
Understanding your brand position will give you clues on the effectiveness of your current strategy, in addition to providing insight into any refinements you need to make. A few ways to get this information include conducting a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis, reputation management, social media sentiment analysis, and web scraping tools that can extract data from all your accounts in seconds.
Knowing Your Audience is Everything
Traditional marketing says "this is my product, find the customer". Disruptive marketing says "this is my customer, find the product."
Which will your approach be?
Let’s consider how technology has changed the entire business landscape by providing better products and services across a wide range of industries. Rather than being driven by technological innovation, the changes have been led by unhappy consumers.
Airbnb, for example, didn’t set out from the very beginning to disrupt the hotel industry. The company initially set out to fill the need for an authentic travel experience. By creating a platform that connects locals and travellers looking for accommodation, the company disrupted the hotel industry by (a) identifying new consumer needs, (b) creating target personas based on dissatisfied customers, and (c) building a product that filled that gap.
Component 3: Competition Analysis
One of the most fundamental components of your market efforts should be conducting a competitive analysis. It’s essential to recognize who your competitors are and what differentiates your products and services. Some critical questions to ask include:
- What products are in my competitor's product catalog?
- What is my competitor’s target market?
- What are my competitor’s price points?
- If I can’t compete on price, how can I add value to my product offering?
- How many followers do my competitors have on social media?
- Do my competitors offer better shipping policies with delivery to more locations?
Aim to analyze at least three competitors and track them over time. That way, you always know where you stand in the market, and that can give you valuable insights to refine your strategy. Your competitors are already analyzing what you do — might as well return the favor.
Component 4: Marketing Strategy
Your marketing strategy should aim to attract leads and transform them into repeat customers that promote your brand for you on the internet. How effectively you achieve that goal depends on several factors that include:
- How well you define your target market
- Your choice of marketing channels such as social media, SEO, live events, direct mail, street teams, webinars, and affiliate marketing
- Effectiveness of your web page copy, blog posts, white papers, case studies, and other creative assets
Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing
Outbound marketing tries to convince you to buy a product or service with aggressive sales tactics. In contrast, inbound marketing attempts to create a “pull” factor that uses valuable content to bring customers to you.
Inbound marketing is super-effective because it helps you zero in on the right customers in order to address their needs. There are numerous aspects to inbound marketing within three primary levels that include:
1. Lead Generation
Attracting attention to the top of your sales funnel can be challenging because there is more content on the internet than ever before. Stand out from the rest by writing blog posts, creating videos, providing guides, and holding events that connect directly with your target customer. This enables you to establish authority by providing helpful information that promotes sharing across social media channels, email, and through word of mouth.
Make sure to pay careful attention to any reactions during this stage! During this process, you are starting a relationship that can translate into repeat sales in the long term. You don’t want to use high-pressure marketing tactics here — think of it as a series of first dates where you aim to demonstrate your best qualities.
2. Audience Engagement
Audience engagement is the level of your inbound marketing campaign where you start the conversation. Just like in our date example, you aren’t asking for a commitment here — you want to get to know your prospects as much as possible.
Use surveys, quizzes, and challenges to ask questions and get comments that give you valuable insights. This is your chance to learn about your target audience’s pain points and build a relationship based on trust. Your goal here is to further demonstrate that you are a trusted authority in your industry.
3. Conversion into Delighted Customers
At this stage, your prospects have converted into customers — congratulations!
Your work, however, is not finished!
Your focus at this level is to turn your existing customers into raving fans that promote your products to grow your customer base. This can be achieved by offering rewards for reviews, creating contests for free products, and starting an affiliate program that earns them a commission for any sales they generate to grow your business.
Delighting customers should be a team effort! While your customer service representatives have a critical role in providing after-sales service, your marketing team should continue to find ways to engage customers, identify new ways to serve them, and provide analytics that track the success of your campaigns.
Component 5: Analytics
Do you know if your campaign is performing well? How do you measure success?
The use of analytics to measure performance is fundamental to ensuring that you’re on the right track. You can track key performance indicators (KPIs) in several ways, including Google Analytics, HubSpot, or your email marketing program. Some key metrics to measure over time include:
- Cost per Lead (CPL)
- Marketing Return on Investment (ROI)
- Cost per Customer Acquisition (CPA)
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)
- Sales to Revenue
Track your KPIs on a regular basis to gauge the success of your marketing program. Make small changes, then measure again (and again!). The use of data analytics is critical to refining your marketing program, meeting objectives, and reaching your business goals.
5 Tips To Make Your Marketing Program Successful
1. Stay agile.
The most expensive marketing campaign is useless if your customers don't engage with it. The best marketing programs are those capable of evaluating their impact, and making all necessary changes to optimize results.
If your current approach doesn't work, stay flexible enough so you can adjust your strategy quickly, and get back on track.
2. Focus on lead generation and customer retention.
Your marketing may be aiming for increased loyalty, greater brand penetration, or a better business reputation, but ultimately it all boils down to generating leads and keeping them coming.
What you want from your marketing strategy is demonstrable ROI (fancy name for “getting your money's worth”) and a steady stream of qualified leads. If you keep this in mind when creating a marketing plan, it is bound to succeed. If it doesn't... refer to point 1.
At the same time you should aim to keep your existing customers happy because it’s far cheaper to generate sales from existing customers than allocating precious marketing dollars to finding new ones. That’s why retaining existing customers should always be the first priority, followed by finding new leads.
3. Create a marketing program that informs other parts of your business.
There is no marketing in the vacuum — the entire organization must be (at best) involved and (at least) informed whenever there is a marketing program. A “sales and marketing plan” will always be more successful than just following a marketing plan template.
Make sure your strategic marketing team coordinates with your production and delivery departments, that the team is aware of new developments, products or strategies, and that the entire company is aligned towards the same goal: growing.
4. Track engagement.
The best sales techniques will be as good as useless if your marketing doesn't deliver the leads. A successful marketing program makes potential customers want to come to you for value and expertise, and tracking engagement helps you measure the success of your campaigns.
Once their imagination has been engaged they’ll come seeking solutions to their problems, and it's up to your sales department to reel them all in.
5. Create content that doesn’t “feel” like marketing.
If we had to choose one out of all the marketing messages going around, it would be this one: Great marketing doesn't feel like marketing. This is why we love inbound marketing so much, because at no point are you actually saying “buy this thing from me”.
Instead, you base effective marketing strategies on articles and information of value to attract, engage and persuade the customer that they want to come to you.
Book a free assessment
Book a free marketing assessment today to learn more about the key performance indicators you should be tracking, including six marketing metrics your boss really wants you to track and why they matter for your company.
Ashley Quintana, M.S., B.A.
Ashley Quintana is a co-founder of BridgeRev. In her role, she develops, leads, and executes digital marketing strategies for the company’s growing client base, including a Fortune 500 subsidiary and an NBA basketball team. Ashley’s work can be found in the Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Science, and she is an OKC.biz 40 Under 40 honoree for her leadership in business and community. She frequently speaks at universities, churches, and conferences on marketing, diversity, and business.